The Holy Bible is the world’s best-selling book with five billion copies sold. It is a small library containing 73 books written by different authors in different literary forms, and intended for different audiences. The Song of Moses in Exodus 15 and the Song of Deborah in Judges 5 are believed to be the most ancient parts of the Bible that were written around the 12th century B.C. The latest ones are the letter to the Hebrews and the Second Letter of Peter, which, as per tradition, were written in the year 100 A.D.
Saint Peter disallowed private interpretations of the Sacred Scripture (Cf 2 Pt 1:19). Hence, it is important that when we read and study the Holy Bible, we have to remind ourselves that the Mother Church, guided by the Triune God since the beginning of Christianity, has been commissioned to be the authentic interpreter of the Sacred Scripture (CCC 100). Christ gave us the Church and not a book. In fact, he did not ask anyone to write anything.
So, we have to be humble and subject ourselves to the Church in order to understand the written Word of God. The Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition has provided its readers some guide on how to not misunderstand the Holy Bible.
We are not the first ones to understand God’s message
Christ has delegated his authority to the Church through Peter two millennia ago (Cf Mt 16:18). Jesus promised to be with the Church until the end of age asking her to teach and obey all that he has commanded (Cf Mt 28:20). The Catholic Church, who always stands with the truth, tirelessly and seriously defends her teachings. For two thousand years many saints suffered and were martyred in standing with Christ and His Church. Saying that these saints were wrong and did not understand the teachings of the Bible is an insult to Christ. It demeans the works of the Holy Spirit among these saints and martyrs of faith.
Saint Paul said in Galatians 1:8 that even if an angel from heaven should preach to us a gospel other than the one that the apostles preached, let that one be accursed! So, it is clear that the Bible is not meant for private interpretation. Instead, we should try to align our own understanding with what the Church teaches.
Every word is NOT an instant problem-solver
The Word of God is indeed life-giving but that does not mean whatever difficulties we have today will disappear by reading the Bible. In Biblical Hermeneutics, we encounter the word “exegesis” which means the process of finding the meaning or meanings a biblical text had for its own author and for its original readers. There are some texts that cannot be taken literally and some may not be applicable in our times.
God did NOT teach everything from the beginning
God communicated with his people for more than fifteen centuries from Abraham to the apostles but he did not tell them everything. As Christians, we believe that the full revelation of God was manifested in the person of Jesus Christ – the Word of God (Jn 1:1ff). This Christ has entrusted his teachings to the Church. So, we, Christ’s followers should always stand with the Church as we read the Bible.
God had in mind the coming of his Son
From the very first message which God gave his people, he had in mind the coming of Jesus Christ and the mystery of his cross and resurrection. We need to read and understand the Old Testament in this light. References to Jesus, his person and mission, are mentioned in the Old Testament especially in the Book of Psalms and the Book of Prophet Isaiah.
The most important is clearly taught
2 Peter 3:16 reminds us that Paul’s letters can be hard to understand and that the ignorant and unstable distort them to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures. For example, in the new testament, baptism is for all human being regardless of age. In the Old Testament, circumcision was a must for the new-born. We know that the Jewish circumcision, in a sense, has similar effects as Christian baptism, many protests against infant baptism which was never prohibited in the Bible. They forget what is clearly taught that baptism is a form of bloodless circumcision as Saint Paul explains in Colossians 2:11.
Conclusion: Humbly and Continually Read the Bible
There are more than 31,000 verses in the Bible and reading what we do not know is not always a good thing. Instead, we should read the bible continually as proof of our love and faithfulness to God. If we persevere, God will give us all the understanding we need.